Government to spend $1.5M to study high obesity rates in lesbians

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have received grants from the National Institutes of Health to examine the disparity in obesity rates among gay women and heterosexual women.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health aims to determine why 75 percent of lesbians suffer from obesity — a far higher proportion than in heterosexual women or gay men.

Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has received grants of $1.5 million from the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for the study since 2011, CNS News reported.

"One area that is only beginning to be recognized is the striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities," the grant description reads in part. "It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic."

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Conversely, heterosexual men are nearly twice as likely to be at risk for obesity as gay men.

"Our study has high potential for public health impact not only for sexual minorities but also for heterosexuals, as we seek to uncover how processes of gender socialization may exacerbate obesity risk in both sexual minority females and heterosexual males," the researchers said.

Researchers say there has been very little study of the disparity, which they reportedly called an issue of "high public-health significance," until now.

The project was set to run for five years and end in 2016, but it could be affected by the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that went into effect on March 1, according to CNS News.

"The NIH is currently assessing the impact on funding due to sequestration," NIHCD press officer Robert Bock said.

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